Nicola's Ristorante

4.6
2359 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Italian
Top Tags:
  • Good for a Date
  • Special Occasion
  • Good for Anniversaries
Located just north of Downtown in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati’s hip and historic neighborhood, Nicola’s Ristorante Italiano has long been a fine dining staple of the city during its 20+ years of operation. Owners Nicola and Maureen Pietoso pride their restaurant not only for its highly acclaimed contemporary Italian menu, extensive wine list and variety of unique dining spaces, but most especially for their restaurant’s long-standing reputation for being warmly hospitable and accommodating.
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Private dining
Dining Style
Casual Elegant
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Cuisines
Italian
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Hours of operation
Dinner: Monday - Thursday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 11:00pm
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Phone number
(513) 721-6200
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Payment options
AMEX, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Business Casual
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Executive chef
Aaron Owen
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Catering
Nicola's Ristorante offers catering to diners' homes; 5-8 courses with wine parings, minimum 10 people, no Saturdays or Sundays, starting at $90.00 a person.
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Liberty Street
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Parking details
Street parking and valet parking Monday through Saturday.
Additional
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Fireplace, Full Bar, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Private Dining

Our award-winning food, wine, unique private & semi-private dining spaces, and professional service combine to create truly memorable experiences for business meetings, social celebrations, weddings, and rehearsal dinners. We can tailor the event to your individual needs.

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Reviews from verified diners
2,359 reviews
4.6 out of 5 Stars
Outstanding
73%
Very Good
16%
Good
8%
Fair
2%
Poor
0%
4.6
food
4.5
service
4.6
ambience
4.2
value
Noise · Quiet
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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TL
5.0Dined 4 days ago

Their pasta dishes were excellent! Relaxed and courteous service. I'd go back in a heartbeat when I visit Cincinnati next time.

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M
5.0Dined 4 days ago

The entire experience from start to finish was excellent. Our server, Bret, was very attentive and very knowledgeable about the entire menu. The food was excellent, as was the service. We sat outside on the patio and it much more quiet and intimate.

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RJ
4.0Dined 4 days ago

Very good food and service. Not 5 star, but certainly a nice experience.

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RQ
5.0Dined on July 11, 2018

A wonderful evening at Nicola's for our anniversary! Food, ambiance, and service
were impeccable !

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c
4.0Dined on July 10, 2018

The food was EXCELLENT. This was the most enjoyable meal we’ve had in quite sometime. Our server was not the warmest person, but she was efficient and reasonably attentive. The atmosphere was dark and cramped and the seat cushions on our chairs were a bit uncomfortable ( we could feel the frame of the seat through what was left of the cushioning). We will certainly return for the food!

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t
5.0Dined on July 7, 2018

New chef great menu and a superb wine list

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LI
5.0Dined on July 7, 2018

We love the ambiance of the restaurant. The food is always exceptional. We were going to the opera and we were finished in plenty of time. We will be back!!

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OT
5.0Dined on July 6, 2018

Fresh Halibut was amazing as well as the Veal. Wonderful beet salad. Bread basket is well worth it !!
Great experience.

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NM
2.0Dined on July 5, 2018

Was disappointed that I informed them ahead of time that my date was gluten-free and I was vegetarian and they were not really able to accommodate us well (most things we were told that if they had known ahead of time they would have prepared, but I had included it in my reservation notes - they did not read them). For the price and their boasting about how they pride themselves on customizing for each individual it was less than adequate.

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c
5.0Dined on July 5, 2018

All four of us enjoyed our meals, from the bread basket and salads through the main course. We shared a plate of Gnocchi, which we all agreed was outstanding. Our server, Fred, explained their new menu very thoroughly, made great suggestions and provided valuable guidance on portions. We all agreed that we would definitely return to Nicola's.

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OT
5.0Dined on July 2, 2018

The staff was delightful. Excellent attention, suggestions. Food was amazing. Thank you!

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R
5.0Dined on July 1, 2018

Great service and consistently the best food in Cincinnati. This is food as art.

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CG
1.0Dined on June 30, 2018

Very disappointed.We go every year with our college daughters and always sit on patio. We had our reservation on patio but because of an unexpected large wedding party we were shoved in a small noisy party room. So not only did we did not get patio but we did not get main dining room either. No apology and we did not get a free drink dessert or appetizer. Every entering the room was very upset too. Unacceptable when you are spending over $400 for dinner. We will not go back.

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SK
5.0Dined on June 28, 2018

We had a lovely meal outside and had plenty of time to catch up with friends - Nicola’s never disappoints! The boucheron goat cheese salad and the gnocchi are both so perfect, I have a hard time ever ordering anything else. Thanks to Fred who took excellent care of our table. We’ll be back soon!

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KP
5.0Dined on June 27, 2018

I took my best friend here for her 30th birthday dinner and oh man did Nicolas go above and beyond to make the meal a special one. The chef, Rob, made a note to come over to our table multiple times to check on us and helped accommodate my husbands strict diet. He even went as far as to make up a special vegetarian meal for one of us. This special treatment was followed by a visit from the bartender who made up a complementary drink on the spot for the birthday girl and then ended naming it after her! All this on top of a delicious meal with a comfortable atmosphere. It’s experiences that have brought me to Nicolas and will keep me coming back!

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MH
5.0Dined on June 26, 2018

Our annual Anniversary visit, and once again, we were not disappointed. We opted for the 5 course tasting menu with wine pairing. Everything was delicious, presentation was outstanding, and sommelier wine pairings he poured, and explained were excellent. A great restaurant.

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CB
5.0Dined on June 23, 2018

This was our first visit to Nicola’s Ristorante. It was recommended by a friend of ours from Baltimore. The food was outstanding and well-prepared. The grilled pear salad was both refreshing and tasty. The Tagliatelle alla Bolognese was a home run. The special for the evening, the seafood pasta, was very delicious. I will definitely come back to Nicola’s when I
am in the “Queen City” again. Everyone in our party of four was impressed with the quality of food served at this restaurant. What a joy it was to spend an evening with friends at this establishment. Calvin B

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EJ
5.0Dined on June 23, 2018

This was my second time at this restaurant. The food is fantastic. I have sampled some of the pastas in a tasting portion, while choosing the lighter summer seafood fare for my entree. The scallops are particularly delicious. The gnocchi will melt in your mouth, and I hear that the bolognese is incredible. I cannot wait to come here in the dead of winter for a nice comforting bowl of the incredible homemade pasta. This time we sat on the terrace. An opportunity is being missed there, as the bones are great, but the space needs sprucing up. At the least the hostess should have brushed the plant matter from the table when she sat us. It could be an absolutely terrific space with some TLC.

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s
5.0Dined on June 23, 2018

Best pasta in town

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f
2.0Dined on June 22, 2018

Our table for eight was placed up against a back wall, hemmed in by the proximate placement of tables on two sides and another wall on the third. The food is quite tasty but for the price, portion sizes are on the small size, particularly the pasta dishes. I asked for a calamari appetizer but the dish was already unavailable at 6 PM (restaurant opens at 5:30) My entree, pasta with mushroom ragu, was unacceptably cold and had to be re-prepared, resulting in the dish finally arriving when everyone else had just about finished. It appears no special effort was made to speed up the preparation of the second dish and little effort was given to a sincere apology by either the waitress or the manager. Some others at the table felt the temperature of their dishes was OK but could have been warmer. All in all this is far from what I'd call a satisfactory dining experience for a presumed up-scale restaurant.

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OT
5.0Dined on June 20, 2018

Lovely evening on our first visit. In town for opera and this was a choice for fine dining. They did not disappoint! Highly recommend. Nice venue, interesting menu and great wine list.

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g
3.0Dined on June 16, 2018

While the service was great, the chef was a little heavy handed with the salt on some of our dishes

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OT
5.0Dined on June 16, 2018

Good date night restaurant. Don’t come too hungry as the portions are a little small. Priced very well, great wine and liquor selection. However our server was the highlight. They all coordinate so well, and are so attentive to your every need. Would highly recommend Nicolas for any occassion, and for date nights , sit outside and enjoy the awesome private patio.

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V
5.0Dined on June 12, 2018

Great gourmet Italian. This chef knows his stuff, waiter was friendly and helpful. We'll be back.

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CP
4.0Dined on June 9, 2018

The meal was fantastic, however we were put in an auxiliary room for some reason. I reserved our table more than a month out but we were still not put in the main dining room. This was disappointing and took away from the restaurant experience somewhat.

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OT
5.0Dined on June 9, 2018

Discovered this gem by accident as our old favorite Sotto was booked! I think we have a new favorite place to dine! Service was amazing. Staff knowledge of menu was excellent. We brought our own wine - they decanted it during cocktails to breath - nice touch!

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CR
5.0Dined on June 8, 2018

It was my friend ‘s first time at Nicola’s and she thought it was the best Italian restaurant she had ever experienced. We really enjoyed both the food and the ambiance.

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OT
4.0Dined on June 8, 2018

Service and ambiance were great! Food was good, but limited selection. Descriptions of dishes had us expecting something different than what we got. All was tasty but not exceptional. For the price, we’ll try somewhere new next time.

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m
3.0Dined on June 7, 2018

We have been coming to Nicola's for years. This occasion was a bit disappointing. There are usually dinner specials and this time there were not. The bread baskets are terrific, but now they charge a small fee for it. The waiter was not very friendly and did not have any real suggestions about the menu. We are wondering if all the new restaurants in OTR and the banks are pulling customers away. I hope not. This place is a real gem. Hope this night was just and off night.

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P
5.0Dined on June 7, 2018

All of our food was amazing, our server Hope was fantastic, and the ambience was wonderful.

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OT
2.0Dined on June 2, 2018

Don't think we will be going back. The atmosphere and ambience is nice, quiet and dimly lit (it's almost to dim, had a little trouble reading the menu). Wine list is extensive but seemed to be served mostly by the bottle vs by the glass (bottle isn't the way you want to go when you each want something different). Our server went over the menu and made recommendations, which we tried, but we were both let down. Our appetizer was so small we couldn't even tell there was anything served on the plate. Entrée's: the lamb shank was more like a pot roast and the risotto was unappealing and lacking as well. However, the menu does change every 3 months so maybe we just went during the wrong menu..

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OT
5.0Dined on June 1, 2018

Had the Calamari appetizer, Gnocchi pasta dish and the Lamb Shank entree. All were excellent. The Gnocchi were light as a feather, which is the way they should be (and the way my grandmother always made them).

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AW
2.0Dined on May 26, 2018

The Waitress didn’t know the wine menu, she bumped into us as she moved around spilling our water refills, we had a guest bite into a bone on the “boneless chicken”, and we were given the most awful drinks almost in a sarcastic way for the inconvenience. Definitely has gone down hill the last year or so.

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OT
5.0Dined on May 25, 2018

Exceptional!

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OT
4.0Dined on May 25, 2018

Lovely evening - all perfect till the end of the meal. The waiter obviously not happy with his tip - asked him twice if there was a problem but nothing. Didn’t say goodbye and left a sour taste after what was a fabulous dinner.

A real pity as spoilt a celebration dinner with friends from abroad. An expensive dinner and unacceptable behavior

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OT
3.0Dined on May 25, 2018

Hate to say it but portions were tiny. Seemed like the apps and pasta split two ways were just microscopic.

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OT
5.0Dined on May 22, 2018

Fabulous food and service and Nick sang Happy Birthday when I arrived. Can’t wait to return

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K
5.0Dined on May 21, 2018

Nicola's is situated in a mid-nineteenth century "Bus-barn," on the edge of the hip and growing "Over the Rhine" district of numerous restaurants and boutiques. Nicola's food is delicious, the staff are friendly and helpful and the ambiance is outstanding. My wife and I always enjoy it! You will, too.

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DF
5.0Dined on May 21, 2018

Nicola's has become one of our favorite haunts. Summer is a great time to go after 7pm and sit outside.

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y
4.0Dined on May 21, 2018

We went for the Monday night Bolognese special.
What a deal!
Our server was Dan and he did a great job .There were 8 of us.
Bread basket is to die for----salads, entree and desserts-- all very good and well done.
Cocktails and wines excellent too !

Thank you Nick for a great Restaurant!

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